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Centennial Celebration: The Roaring 20s

This is part of a series of articles on the history of Holy Family Parish produced during the parish’s celebration of the Centennial of the church’s Dedication.

Daprato Statuary Altar at HFC color correctedIt was exciting to live in America in the 1920s. The unprecedented economic boom brought prosperity to nearly every corner of the United States – even Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa benefited doubly because the discovery of oil multiplied Tulsa’s wealth and growth.

As Holy Family’s parishioners prospered, they were generous to the parish. Donations paid for much of the beautiful statues and altars that we enjoy today.

By 1924, Holy Family Parish observed its 25th Anniversary as a parish and its 10th Anniversary of the new church building’s dedication. Father John Heiring, the pastor who built the new church, was especially excited because the parish celebrated these milestones as a debt-free institution.

There is a long standing Catholic tradition that a church building is dedicated for the purpose of public worship at the time of the building’s first Mass. Another tradition is that a church is consecrated when it is free of debt. A dedication is a simpler blessing; a consecration is more solemn.

heiring portraitHoly Family’s freedom from any large financial obligations led Father Heiring to begin planning for the church’s consecration in 1925. He invited Bishop Francis Kelley, the bishop of Oklahoma, and several other prelates to visit Tulsa in May of 1925 to consecrate Holy Family Church. The principal celebrant at the consecration was the Archbishop of New York, Patrick Cardinal Hayes.

The day before the big event, Cardinal Hayes said Mass in Holy Family for a half dozen bishops, a seminary rector, and a number of local priests. The Cardinal stepped aside to let Bishop Kelley reveal a surprise he had been saving. Bishop Kelley read a papal decree elevating Father Heiring to the rank of monsignor. Thus, the priest was able to celebrate the consecration of Tulsa’s grand church as a monsignor.

Consecration of Holy Family Church 1925 smallerOn the day of the consecration, thousands of Tulsans came to the Mass and sat in the church or stood outside during the five-hour-long ceremony.


In the 1920s, the Catholic Church had two popes: Benedict XV and Pius XI. Oklahoma had two bishops: Theophile Meerschaert (d. 1924) and Francis Kelley. Holy Family had two pastors: Msgr. John Heiring (serving until 1928) and Msgr. James McGuire.

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